Fireball Crossword – 27 January 2016

Here’s a quick write-up of last week’s meta puzzle from Fireball, PIE FILLING. Subscribe here.

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“Pie Filling”

Constructor: Todd McClary

Size: 15 x 15

Theme: Meta puzzle that asks the following: With respect to the nickname of its sports teams, what NCAA Division I school completes this puzzle’s theme?

The theme answers are:

  • 17A: DANUBE RIVER – What geographical feature, whose beauty is the subject of a famous waltz, flows through 10 European nations?
  • 23A: RAISE YOUR GLASS – What 2010 #1 hit was conceived by its singer as a way to toast her first decade as a musical entertainer?
  • 36A: MAJOR WALTER REED – What historic U.S. Army officer in 1901 helped establish that mosquitoes are transmitters of a certain hemorrhaagic fever?
  • 46A: THE DA VINCI CODE – Paris’s Louvre art museum serves as both opening and closing locations in what 2003 novel?
  • 54A: CHLOROPHYLL – The scientific formula C55H72MgN4O5 identifies what pigment that is essential to photosynthesis?

All five of them allude to a colour in their clue (BLUE Waltz, P!NKYELLOW fever, Dan BROWN and GREEN pigment). These are five of the six colours in Trivial Pursuit (hence the title and odd clue phrasing). The remaining one is ORANGE, meaning that the answer is Syracuse University, whose sports teams are the ORANGE Men.

This is a neat little meta. One layer I initially didn’t pick up on until the solution e-mail is that all five of the theme answers pertain to their Trivial Pursuit categories — the Danube River gives you the Blue category (Geography), P!nk is Entertainment, etc.

I got this wrong — I found the colours, punched them into Google, saw they were five of the six colours in snooker, and confidently submitted the University of Maine (BLACK Bears) without trying to work out the significance of the title. Foolish on my part, of course. Lena correctly worked it out shortly afterward in an e-mail thread.

While I do quite like the meta, the fill is a bit rough. ADVTCABMENOESTELASSI and READD aren’t great, but the bigger issue is that none of it strikes me as particularly interesting. So until you grok the meta, it just seems like random longer answers amidst a lot of boring short stuff. I do like the meta, though, and the puzzle as a whole looks better in hindsight than it did when I solved it last week. Also, it’s got a reference to our namesake (NKOTB clued as 49D: Boy band initials), which made me smile.

Good meta, so-so solve.

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